NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Prepaid credit and debit cards are becoming a personal finance weapon of choice for more Americans.
According to a study last year from PewStates.org, U.S. prepaid card use grew to $64 billion in 2012 from $56.8 billion in 2011.
Additional data show Americans are coming to view prepaid cards as key elements in their banking and spending plans, with 59% of Americans with a checking account also using a prepaid card at least once per month.
"There are many reasons consumers use preloaded debit cards," says Ben Katz, chief executive at Los Angeles-based Card.com. "While some people are in situations where they cannot get a traditional bank account, others wish to avoid the inconveniences and high fees associated with traditional branch banking."Card.com offers a look at the changing landscape of prepaid cards: They are more used than thought, and are heavily used by middle class consumers. About 12 million Americans use prepaid cards, with most possessing a household income of more than $30,000 and having other debit and credit cards.